How To Dress In Qatar

Madi Alexander is a a student at Oklahoma City University and an official API Student Blogger. Madi is studying abroad with API this spring in Doha, Qatar.

My friends frequently ask questions about my wardrobe here in Qatar. There tend to be some misconceptions regarding what the general population wears. For instance, I am repeatedly asked if I must wear a headscarf or even a burqa. The answer is no.

There are, however, some important things to remember regarding clothing when traveling or living in the Middle East. Here are a few tips for anyone visiting or studying in the Middle East:

How to Dress like a Qatari

Most Qatari men and men of other Arab nationalities wear a thobe, a long white dress, and a ghutrah, a traditional Arab scarf. Ghutrahs can be white or a red-checkered pattern. The women frequently wear an abaya and a shayla over regular clothing. An abaya is a long, loose dress that has long sleeves and covers the ankles. Abayas and shaylas are usually black with a decorative pattern.

Ladies, your outfit wouldn’t be complete without a designer purse, the highest of high heels, and a pair of designer sunglasses. And for the gentlemen, don’t forget to wear your designer watch and your Ray-Bans.

How to Dress like a Student in Qatar

Regarding the headscarf, women here are not forced to cover. It is a personal choice. I am not required to cover my hair. Qatar is a very modern country and does not force any women to cover their entire body. However, since it is still an Islamic country, women are expected to cover their knees, shoulders, and chest.

There are two things I take into account in Qatar:  modesty and the weather. I usually wear pants and a short sleeve shirt to school. The classrooms are heavily air-conditioned and get chilly sometimes, so pants are a good idea. I also try to avoid wearing t-shirts, since students tend to dress nicer here than in the U.S. No one wears pajamas and sweatpants to class.

I’m free to wear whatever I want, as long as it is modest. I haven’t found that dressing appropriately is a problem, nor does it cause discomfort. At the beach, women are expected to wear shorts and t-shirt. Even if you could wear a bikini, you wouldn’t want to do so because that would attract the wrong kind of attention.

What Not to Wear

Anything that exposes your knees, shoulders, or chest. This especially applies to the women. Wearing capri pants is acceptable and short sleeves are fine. Since Qatar is an Islamic country, the people tend to dress more conservatively than in America. Wearing shorts or a tank top will draw unwanted attention to you and that’s not something anyone wants. The men should wear longer cargo shorts that at least reach the knees. Also, wearing clothing that screams “I’M AMERICAN!” probably isn’t the wisest idea. Qatar is very modern and incredibly secure, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

As always, be sure to do your own research about the country you’ll be visiting or studying in, as the clothing expectation differs among countries. It is important to respect the local traditions and customs. Hopefully these tips have provided a bit of insight into the culture in Qatar and have better prepared you for a visit to this region!




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  1. Kingsley Hayford says

    im dreamin of comin to experience de qatari life cos im bored of african cultures

  2. Elizabeth says

    Hi there! I am traveling abroad in two months and have an 8 hr layover in Qatar and am curious about what to expect during my few hrs there. We would like to leave the airport and go for dinner and i wiuld like to respect all customs. Should I have a head scarf while there? Thanks!

    • Hi there! No, a headscarf is not required of foreigners. I would not wear anything that is too short (either the top or the bottoms), but other than that you can dress as you would visiting any western restaurant. I recommend Souq Waqif – there is a Yemini place called Sanaa something that has the most amazing flatbreads (the size of a pizza) and stews. Safe travels!

  3. Hi,
    I found your blog just now when searching out appropriate male clothing for Qatar. We live in the Pacific Northwest and my husband will be working in Qatar (Doha) in offices. This is a last minute business trip and no time to find more lighter color clothing. My questions are: What kind of dress should he wear in the offices? And should he wear ties? He will be meeting a variety of people and working with them, and perhaps meet a CEO. Here, he wears typical casual brown leather shoes and one pair of black Italian leather shoes that he usually pairs with nice cut jeans, dark and or light dress shirt with a light pima cotton sweater over it. He does not where a tie but has them, does not own a suit but has a dark sports jacket. We don’t have time to go buy more clothes. He also has khaki pants but they don’t always go well with his shoes and are on the casual side. It’s hot there and I know they wear a lot of light colors….Please, any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Hi Gia, the business culture in Qatar is similar to in the West, so I would advise him to dress as if he were attending meetings in New York or London. Good luck!

  4. Truc Nguyen says

    Hello, I will be traveling to Vietnam with an 8 hour layover in Doha. I wanted to know if I landed around 5:20pm if I would have enough time to venture out and see some sights while its still light. What time does the sun set? Also, can you recommend some sights to see and take amazing photos? I’ve read on a few sites that gold necklaces are banned for men in this country, is that true? Thank you!

    • Hi there! With that layover you should have plenty of time to check out the Souq Waqif for sure… and even walk along the Corniche by the Museum of Islamic Art. Lots of great photo opportunities there. I’ve not heard about the gold necklace thing; I think it unlikely.

  5. Hi, I just found your blog when looking for do’s and don’t ofdressing up in Doha. I will be visiting my husband in January , I’m confused bout are women allowed to wear sleeveless top if the shoulder is covered. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi
      Wish you a happy visit in Qatar! It is better if you choose some half sleeve dresses or T shirts. Dressing up in a modest manner is required: not too exposing from top or bottom. Just keep this in mind and dress up what ever you like

  6. Hey… thanks for posting this article. I may be coming to Qatar for a project soon and was wondering what would be expected of me as a foreign female (South African) while. Dress code and social etiquette… I’m a bit nervous, so would really appreciate any information.

  7. Reshma Kouser says

    Thanks – but I would wanted to know more about dressing since am from INDIA and here no restrictions on dressing style. if you can post random pics of shopping mall or official work place dressing style of women’s would really help.

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  9. Thanks designed for sharing such a good thought, post is pleasant, thats why i have read it fully

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